“Scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance was a mistake”

Shakira Martin, President-elect of NUS, writes on FE Week: Scrapping the education maintenance allowance scheme in England was a mistake. Plain and simple. The coalition government did a U-turn on their education policy centred on ‘fairness and equality of opportunity for all’. Against all their rhetoric it took away from those who needed the help most. Labour’s commitment to reinstating the scheme if elected next month are a step in the right direction on the road to recovery for FE.

EMA made a significant difference to those from low-income backgrounds, covering essentials such as food, books and transport. It wasn’t perfect but it eased educational disadvantage and scrapping it has had major repercussions on students from lower-income families. At the time of implementation in 2004, financial constraints were seen as a barrier to involvement in post-16 education, it aimed to directly reduce the cost of education as a means for raising their participation (including influencing retention and attainment).

Many students were struggling then, and they’re still struggling now. We know from our own research that many find it difficult to cover their course costs with half stating that they had considered dropping out due to financial worries. This manifesto finally says to post-16 learners that our politicians are ready to invest in young people again and provide a real ladder to opportunities, skills and jobs.

[Read full column on FE Week website…]

EMA Scrapping: What it means for you

From FundingEducation: The scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has been one of the most controversial moves made by the Tory-led government. It has attracted criticism from opposition politicians, student groups and teachers, many of whom have suggested that it will put students from poorer backgrounds off continuing their education.

The scheme is now closed. Many students are concerned about how this will affect their plans for college and other further education. So what does the scrapping of EMA mean for you?

EMA is a grant that was provided to students between the ages of 16 and 19, whose parents were deemed to be on low incomes. In order to be eligible for EMA the student needed to be undertaking a further education course of at least 12 hours a week, in an FE college, sixth form college, or school sixth form.

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What impact has scrapping EMA had?

From BBC News: There were major protests earlier this year when the government voted to get rid of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in England.

Now the Association of Colleges (AoC) says nearly half of England’s colleges have taken on fewer students this term.

It claims the decision to scrap EMA is one of the main reasons, as some students are worried about the cost of getting to and from college.

The Education Maintenance Allowance allowed teenagers from poorer families to claim up to £30 a week to stay in education. It was supposed to cover transport, food and equipment costs.

Jeremy Rogers, Principal of Cadbury Sixth Form College in Birmingham, thinks scrapping the EMA was a huge mistake: “It’s had a devastating impact. About 300 young people who would have come to us, have not come to us.”

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Students hit by scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance

From The Guardian: When the education secretary, Michael Gove, was interviewed by Education Guardian readers before the general election, he flatly denied that the education maintenance allowance (EMA) was for the chop, saying: “Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping the EMA. I have never said this. We won’t.”

So it was a surprise to many to hear, in last week’s spending review, that the EMA was to be among the casualties. The allowance, which dates back to 1944, was revised by the Labour government into a means-tested national scheme supporting young people from lower-income families in 16-19 education. The chancellor, George Osborne, said the £30 weekly payment was to be replaced by “more targeted support”, though he did not say what.

And while the government claims it is putting more money into education for school-aged children, 16- to 19-year-olds appear to have been left out in the cold. As well as abolishing the EMA, the government plans to reduce the amount of funding per student for sixth-formers.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]